Last night, Tucker Carlson, revved up the Fox Hate Machine against Ted Lieu. This morning, Ted's staff got to his DC and L.A. offices to find scores of voice mails like the one above. You think that guy wears a mask? You think he's going to get vaccinated? Silver lining: the American gene pool will be much better off when he dies. Ted's chief of staff, Marc Cevasco, told me this morning that he'd "like to tell you this is the worst voicemail that our office has ever received, but sadly it wasn't even the most disturbing one we got last night. Many are far more racist or threatening. This one isn't an explicit threat and likely won't even be referred to Capitol Police for further investigation. Sadly, any time the Congressman is mentioned on Fox News we get a deluge of calls and social media posts like this. In this line of work we sometimes have to deal with the occasional unhinged caller. But things are getting worse and after January 6th we have to take threats more seriously."
Relatively, conservatives don't have a lot of entertainment industry icons popularizing their agenda. But they have some. One is far right rocker Ted Nugent-- whose band, I'm proud to say, I dropped within hours of becoming president of Reprise. Today, the Orlando Weekly reported on the possible missing detail about Nugent's serious case of COVID-19: how the 72 year old pandemic-denying, anti-mask wing-nut got infected. Nugent, reported Colin Wolf "found out he was sick with symptoms just a week after playing at a Naples grocery store that encourages 'mask-free shopping.' According to the Naples Daily News, the 72-year-old Nugent performed songs and spoke about 'demonic' libs on April 12 at Seed to Table, which is owned by his friend Alfie Oakes. The event also featured an appearance from Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, who was not wearing a mask, said the paper. The grocer went viral last February for being an anti-mask grocery store, and after Oakes claimed in a Facebook Live video that the pandemic isn’t real. 'No one’s getting infected here, no one’s dying,' said Oakes. 'I want to get the truth out. It’s a fraud, it’s a sham, and people have got to wake up.' Meanwhile, Nugent says the 'Chinese shit' has really set him back. 'I've got a stuffed up head, body aches,' said a coughing Nugent in the video. 'My God, what a pain in the ass. I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days.'" Keep checking in with DWT and we'll let you know if he dies.
Republicans are still denying the pandemic and many of them-- as many as half the white male Republicans according to serval polls-- say they will not get vaccinated. It isn't just Nugent. In this morning's Washington Post, Dan Keating, Fenit Nirappil, Isaac Stanley-Becker reported on the conundrum facing the country. "Daily coronavirus vaccinations have slowed significantly for the first time since February, a sign that demand is slipping even though every American adult is now eligible for the shots. About 3 million Americans are getting vaccinated daily, an 11 percent decrease in the seven-day average of daily shots administered over the past week. The unprecedented drop is rivaled only by a brief falloff that occurred in February, when winter storms forced the closure of vaccination sites and delayed shipments nationwide... Scores of counties from Iowa to Texas have begun to decline vaccine shipments, highlighting issues of hesitancy and barriers to health care that may hamper efforts to reach the levels of protection needed to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Officials say they need to ramp up efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach groups such as rural residents and homebound seniors, answer pointed questions from people leery of side effects and convince young people who don’t fear the virus that they, too, benefit from getting vaccinated."
Yesterday Biden announced an incentive-- there will be more, no doubt (perhaps autographed copies of "Cat Scratch Fever" after Nugent dies?)-- tax credits for employers that give their workers paid time off to receive and recover from inoculations.
But millions of Americans are still not signing up for shots for a host of other reasons, from wanting to avoid the hassle of finding an appointment to wanting to wait longer for more research on long-term side effects.
...The slowdown in shots is concentrated in certain parts of the country, exacerbating the regional divides in vaccinations.
The declines are especially acute across states in the Deep South that already have some of the lowest vaccination rates. Average daily shots plunged by more than 30 percent in Georgia and South Carolina over the past week. Texas reported a 25 percent decline with about 30 percent of its eligible population inoculated.
...Some counties with as few as a quarter of eligible residents fully vaccinated are seeing steady or even increasing coronavirus infections, a harbinger of how inadequate coverage could allow the virus to spread. Most are relatively rural and overwhelmingly Republican. Health officials in these places said they had not expected such anti-vaccine antipathy.
Anti-masker Rand Paul (R-KY), who has-- along with fellow GOP sociopaths Mike Braun (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rick Scott (R-FL)-- refused to be vaccinated, went on Fox to taunt Americans, saying "If you want more people to get vaccinated, Joe Biden should go on national TV, take his mask off and burn it... Light a torch to it and burn his mask and say, 'I’ve had the vaccine, I am now safe from this plague. If you get the vaccine, you can be safe, too.'" He wasn't trying to be humorous.
On Tuesday the U.S. reported 60,841 new cases and 883 more deaths. Yesterday it was another 65,057 new cases and 876 more deaths. Because of Trump and the Republican Party 32,602051 Americans have been infected-- far more than India and Brazil combined, the only two countries with over 10 million cases-- and 583,330 Americans have died-- again more than the next two worst-suffering countries in the world combined. Right now, the U.S. has the most critical/serious cases of any country in the world:
Which states have had the worst of it? Of the half dozen states that have had the most cases per million people, all but one voted for Trump and all but one has unified GOP control of state government. The outlier is Rhode Island, who governor was brainless and corrupt conservative corporate shill Gina Raimondo, Biden's worst cabinet pick.
North Dakota- 139,382 cases per million residents
Rhode Island- 137,486 cases per million residents
South Dakota- 137,360 cases per million residents
Iowa- 123,835 cases per million residents
Utah- 122,853 cases per million residents
Tennessee- 122,684 cases per million residents
It isn't fair to only blame Trump, the red states' governors and legislatures though. Ultimately, the blame rests with the people who elected and reelected them. The people like the one who left the voice mail on Ted Lieu's phone last night.
The pandemic has been relatively benign in East Asia-- until now. Japan has had 4,331 cases per million residents-- not much compared to the Dakotas or any Trump states-- but there is an uptick in Japan right now. Tuesday they reported 2,745 new cases. Wednesday it was another 3,980 and today 5,291, bring the national total to 546,425 (9,764 deaths). Today the Japan Times reported that "Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga wants to make a decision as soon as this week on whether to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and other areas, and ramp up restrictions to contain a surge in coronavirus cases just three months before the start of the delayed Olympics. The Tokyo metropolitan government and the Kyoto and Hyogo prefectural governments separately asked the national government on Wednesday for the application of a state of emergency. Osaka Prefecture did this on Tuesday. The decision will be made on Friday, government sources said. If adopted in all four regions from Tokyo to Kyoto, the emergency measures would cover close to a quarter of Japan’s population of 126 million. But it was the moves by the leaders of Japan’s two-biggest and economically important urban areas that have put pressure on Suga to move quickly... The surge comes as Japan has only started vaccinating its general public this month, with shots for those over 65... Under the current measures, commuter trains are packed, while crowds flock to stores and restaurants. Civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution prohibit a lockdown backed by police action. Suga, who has touted the Olympics, scheduled to start July 23, as an opportunity to prove the world has defeated the virus, reiterated the government’s stance that the games will proceed as scheduled despite any state of emergency... The virus surge has further soured Japanese public support for the Olympics, which would be one of the biggest global events of the pandemic era. More than 70% of those surveyed by broadcaster ANN over the weekend said they were against holding the games, which were expected to draw more than 60,000 athletes, coaches, national team staff, media and other essential workers from more than 200 countries, as scheduled. Despite the rising numbers in Japan, the country has by far the fewest recorded COVID-19 cases of any Group of Seven country. Its death toll has also been among the lowest in the group at about 9,650, well below the some 128,000 in the U.K., which has a population about the half the size of Japan’s."
India is in much worse shape-- the world epicenter for the surge right now. We talked about it here a few days ago. It's gotten much worse in just a few days! Hannah Ellis-Petersen, reporting for The Guardian today from Delhi wrote about India's descent into COVID hell, starting with India's far right leader not exactly promoting masks or social distancing even as the country's rate of infection and death sky-rockets and the hospital system collapses. There were 275,644 new cases today and 1,606 one day reported deaths, both numbers that are probably much lower than reality.
"The country," she wrote, "has descended into a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. Almost 1.6 million cases have been registered in a week, bringing total cases to more than 15 million. In the space of just 12 days, the Covid positivity rate doubled to 17%, while in Delhi it hit 30%. Hospitals across the country have filled to capacity but this time it is predominately the young taking up the beds; in Delhi, 65% of cases are under 40 years old. While the unprecedented spread of the virus has been partly blamed on a more contagious variant that has emerged in India, Modi’s government has also been accused of failures of political leadership from the top, with lax attitudes emulated by state and local leaders from all parties and even health officials across the country, which led many to falsely believe in recent months that India had defeated Covid." Modi is more similar to Trump than almost any other fascist leader in the world.
“Leadership across the country did not adequately convey that this was an epidemic which had not gone away,” said K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.
“Victory was declared prematurely and that ebullient mood was communicated across the country, especially by politicians who wanted to get the economy going and wanted to get back to campaigning. And that gave the virus the chance to rise again.”
In West Bengal, where Modi’s government has refused to curtail the drawn-out state elections that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to win, Modi and his home minister, Amit Shah, continued their public meetings and roadshows into this week even as queues of ambulances lined up outside hospitals across India. On Saturday, the same day as Modi’s rally, the state registered 7,713 new cases – the highest since the pandemic began. Three candidates running in the election have died from the virus. By Sunday, #ModiMadeDisaster began trending on Twitter.
Doctors on the frontline broke down, speaking of the deluge of dying Covid patients they had been unable to treat due to a lack of beds and inadequate state and central government preparation.
...The haunting blare of ambulance sirens continued to ring out across the capital almost non-stop. Inside Lok Nayak government hospital in Delhi, the largest Covid facility in the capital, overburdened facilities and a shortage of oxygen cylinders meant there was two to a bed, while outside patients waiting for beds gasped for air on stretchers and in ambulances, while sobbing relatives stood by their sides. Some sat with oxygen cylinders they had bought themselves out of desperation. Others died waiting in the hospital car park.
In Mumbai, which was the first city to bear the brunt of the second wave, Dr Jalil Parkar of Lilavati hospital said that “the whole healthcare system has collapsed and doctors are exhausted.”
“There is a shortage of beds, shortage of oxygen, shortage of drugs, shortage of vaccines, shorting of testing,” said Parkar.
“Even though we opened another wing for Covid, we still don’t have nearly enough beds, so we have had to put some patients in the corridors and we have turned the basement into a triage area for Covid patients. We have people waiting in ambulances and wheelchairs outside the hospital and we have to sometimes give them oxygen out there. What else can we do?”
...States such a Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh stand accused of covering up the true death toll from coronavirus, with the numbers of bodies stacking up in hospital morgues far outnumbering official fatality figures.